One of the things that happens when you have a baby – this must be universal – is the urge to start digging through old photos. It’s been fun to try and spot family resemblances, and to see other people in your families as they became parents : they suddenly seem so much more relatable?
We spent our first day home from the hospital going through a box of Mathieu’s family photos.
Mathieu with his two grandpas! He’s being held by Grandpa Pierre Bousquet, with Grandpa Christophe Guerrero in front. Pierre is still alive, grumpy and full of opinions… He owned and operated the only grocery store in Cournonterral, and was a grape grower as well; the grapes were sold to the local winegrowers’ cooperative. Christophe is Mathieu’s maternal grandfather and was from Spain. Nolan takes one of his middle names from Christophe! I love him; he’s always laughing and smiling in all his photos, with such a genuine spirit.
The man in the background in the yellow shirt is Claude, Mathieu’s dad and the founder of Clos d’Elle; he began as a grape grower but began making and selling wine some eight or nine years ago; the business has
grown to 50 hectares of vineyards and over 50,000 bottles of wine a year. Mathieu joined the business last year when we moved back to France.
This is my dad, Mark..Nolan takes one of his middle names from him. I miss him every day. He died, I guess six and a half years ago, from a brain tumor. He was gentle, funny, kind, and loved kids. He never gave up on me or stopped believing in me, even when I was very confused and difficult…and I remember, one day while he was very sick with the tumor that stripped a lot of his memory and ability to express and communicate: he had been doing rehabilitation therapy after his second surgery, no longer very verbal, but the therapist came in the room with me and said, “Your dad told me you’re a glassblower. He told me he’s very proud of you.” I looked at my dad who was smiling and nodding from far away.
I didn’t think anybody should be particularly proud of me. I was a first class catastrophe for most of my life, and had barely pulled it together. Becoming a glassblower and starting a business was really the first time in my life I’d done a truly adult thing, worthy of self-respect. Instead of living in the short term and being completely impulsive and selfish, I had long term goals and daily discipline, combined with a willingness to take chances. The difficulty and challenges of glassblowing forced me to slow down and be patient and work hard at something.
I think that for a long time most people in my family saw me either as fragile or irresponsible…It actually was really important to me that my dad was proud of me.
So that my dad, in the depths of his illness, should find those words: “I’m proud of her.” – important enough to say…to a complete stranger, even though it was very difficult for him…I think I finally believed it. 🙂
I think he would be thrilled that I finally pulled it together enough to start a family too! 🙂 I wish he could have met my baby.
Just a couple more:
It’s fun to go through this stuff. My sister is the family historian, not me…and all these were sent to me by her. There’s something about having a baby that makes you think about where you came from, as a way of connecting the links to the tiny little person at the center of your world…to find context. Miraculous!